BBQ Chicken with Chipotle Honey Glaze

Serves 8

Organic chicken is the ideal meat to cook for dinner gatherings. Few are the people that will not relish the succulent meat, intense chicken taste, and crisp skin. And of all the methods to cook chicken, barbecuing is the most effective accenting the unique qualities of chicken. All barbecuing requires supervision. Get your friends involved turning the chicken on the grill and brushing on more marinade. However, if you find this distracting or stress inducing, the chicken is great roasted in a 425-degree oven for approximately 30 minutes.

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 cups chopped vine-ripe tomatoes, including the skin and seeds
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup cider or white distilled vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 organic frying chickens cut into pieces, or 8 chicken breast halves, bone and skin on
  • 2 cups wood chips, such as hickory or apple
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, optional

Combine olive oil and garlic. In a bowl, combine all remaining ingredients except the chicken and wood chips. Place olive oil and garlic in a 12-inch sauté pan. Place over medium-high heat. When the garlic begins to brown, add the chopped tomato mixture. Bring to a boil and cook until it thickens so it clings to the end of a wooden spoon. Cool to room temperature. Add half the sauce to the chicken. Combine the remaining sauce with the cream. Can be done to this point up to 24 hours before cooking with all food refrigerated.

Cooking: Preheat a gas or charcoal barbecue to medium (not hot). Place the wood chips on a small layer of foil and place at the corner of the cooking grate. Brush vegetable oil on the grill and add the chicken. Cook the chicken until both sides are golden, about 10 minutes of cooking. Close the lid. Every 3 to 5 minutes open the lid, turn the chicken over and then close the lid again. The chicken is done when the internal temperature of the thighs is 165 degrees and breasts 155 degrees using a meat thermometer (about 30 minutes of cooking). Transfer to a heated platter. Bring the cream-chipotle sauce to a rapid boil. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Serve family style, or transfer the chicken to dinner plates.

Menu ideas: Appetizers: Imported olives, both black and green, seed-in, and pitted; thinly sliced salami; roasted, salted nuts. With the entrée serve Oven Roasted New Potatoes and Buttered Peas. Dessert: Fresh Peach Ice Cream.

Keep It Fun: Visions of Grandeur
It’s Monday. I pick up the phone and invite eight friends for dinner Saturday night, thinking “Simple, Easy, Quick.” But as the days pass, a little voice becomes increasingly shrill and persistent. “Complicate.” “Impress.” “Make a Culinary Tour De Force.” The goal of a simple dinner becomes lost. By Saturday night, I’m in a culinary daze, slightly irritable, and distracted throughout the dinner. The next morning I hear the standard refrain from Teri: “Why did you do such an elaborate dinner. You didn’t even have time to talk with your friends.” Quiet that inner voice. Embrace the simple menu. Grandeur comes with a cost.

BBQ Chicken with Lemon-Basil-Garlic Glaze

Serves 8

Boned chicken breasts quickly lose their moist interior when barbecued entirely on direct heat. That’s why in this recipe after the breasts are lightly charred, they are grilled over indirect heat that is maintained at a low temperature.

Lemon-Basil-Garlic Glaze

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 cup thin soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 6 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup chopped basil or sage or cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon your favorite chili sauce
  • 4 organic whole chicken breasts, boned but skin on
  • 2 cups wood chips
  • Vegetable oil to brush on the grill

Combine all the Lemon-Glaze ingredients and stir well. Add the glaze to the chicken and coat the pieces evenly. Can be done to this point up to 24 hours before cooking with all food refrigerated.

Cooking: Preheat a gas or charcoal fire to medium. Place the wood chips on a small layer of foil, and place at one corner of the cooking grate. Brush vegetable oil on the grill. Place the chicken, skin side down on the grill. Cook until the skin becomes lightly charred, about 8 minutes. Brush with more marinade, and turn the chicken over. Turn off the heat under the chicken (if using coals, push them to one side). Turn the other burners to low. Cover the lid, and cook the chicken over low heat until the internal temperature on a meat thermometer reads 155 degrees. Every 5 minutes during cooking, turn the chicken over, brush with remaining marinade, and close the lid again. When done, transfer the chicken to a heated platter if serving family style or to individual dinner plates. Serve.

Menu ideas: Appetizers: Chinese Jade Dumplings (guests help fold the dumplings), crackers and a dip. With the entrée serve BBQ Portabello Mushrooms and hot dinner rolls. Dessert: Homemade pie and ice cream brought by a dinner guest.

BBQ Chicken Breasts with Red Pepper Tequila Glaze

Serves 8

This is a very good cooking technique for casual dinners. The chicken is given an initial charring on the barbecue and then slow roasted in an oven. Done in this manner, you’ll have more time to enjoy your friends.

  • 8 organic boneless chicken breasts halves, skin on

Dijon Marinade

  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Asian chili sauce
  • 3 cloves minced garlic

Red Pepper Glaze

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup tequila
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons Asian chili sauce
  • 1 cup roasted red pepper, store-bought
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro sprigs
  • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (or toasted pine nuts, or slivered almonds)
  • 4 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled

In a bowl that is large enough to hold the chicken, combine all ingredients for the Dijon marinade. Add the chicken breasts, and coat evenly. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and garlic. In another bowl, combine the broth, tequila, oyster sauce, cornstarch, and chili sauce. Rinse the pepper, pat dry, and chop. Add to the chicken broth mixture the chopped red pepper and cilantro. Place a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and garlic. When the garlic begins to brown, add the chicken broth-red pepper mixture. Immediately remove this from the stove. Set aside the pumpkin seeds. Crumble the goat cheese. Can be done to this point up to 24 hours before cooking, with all food refrigerated.

Cooking: Line a shallow baking pan with foil. Spray a wire rack with nonstick spray and place on the baking pan. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Preheat a gas or charcoal fire to medium-high. Add the chicken skin side down. Cook the chicken over direct heat on both sides until golden and lightly charred, about 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken, skin side up, to the wire rack. Place in the preheated oven and roast until the internal temperature of the chicken reads 155 degrees on a meat thermometer, about 20 minutes. Stir the Red Pepper Glaze. Bring to a boil. Place the chicken on a heated platter. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle on the pumpkin seeds and crumbled goat cheese. Serve family style or serve on dinner plates.

Menu ideas: Appetizers: Stir-Fry Shrimp in Lettuce Cups. With the entrée serve BBQ Corn with Lime, Olive Oil, and Garlic, and hot dinner rolls; salad greens tossed with your favorite salad dressing. Dessert: Chocolate Crème Brulee.

Keep It Fun: Red Wine Choices

There is a vast range of red wine choices to match with these poultry recipes. Generally the more aggressively flavored the dish, the more full-bodied the matching red wine. Keep in mind that chili in food intensifies the tannins in red wine. The wine and food matching is badly thrown off balance. So if serving a spicy Szechwan chicken pour a low-tannin, full-bodied red wine such as a Zinfandel.

Szechwan Oven Roasted Chicken

Serves 8

When roasting or barbecuing chicken, the flavor is greatly enhanced by lengthy marinating. The protein fibers are loosely bound together so that after an 8- to 24-hour marinating, the flavors will have penetrated right to the bone. On the other hand, fish is even more absorbent and rarely benefits from more than one hour of marinating. As for pork, beef, and lamb, the tight structure of the proteins means that even with lengthy marinating, very little of the marinade penetrates deeply into the meat.

  • 2 to 3 organic frying chickens cut into thighs, drumsticks, and breasts
  • 1/4 cup Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese chili sauce
  • skin from 1 lime, grated with a micro-plane
  • 1/4 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 8 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup minced green onion

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except chicken. Stir well. Add chicken. Can be done up to 24 hours before cooking, with all the food refrigerated.

Cooking: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a shallow baking pan with foil. Place a wire rack on top. Drain the chicken and place skin side up on the wire rack. Transfer the chicken to the oven. Roast until the breasts reach 155 degrees and the thighs 165 degrees on a meat thermometer, about 30 minutes cooking. Twice during roasting, brush any extra marinade across the chicken. Transfer to a heated platter for family style, or onto dinner plates. Serve.

Menu ideas: Appetizers: Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail; thick wedges of bleu cheese and Brie with crackers. With the entrée serve Oven Roasted Mashed Potatoes (made a day in advance); Salad course: Waldorf Salad. Dessert: A premium ice cream with Caramel Chocolate Sauce.

Keep It Fun: Plate the Food in the Kitchen

We’re huge fans of plating each course in the kitchen, assuming, of course, that there is plenty of counter space. The food is transferred to the plates quickly. There is the same size portion on each plate. Every plate looks equally attractive. And the serving process is far speedier than serving the food buffet fashion or using the pass-the-platter syndrome. You’ll be amazed. Guests love to help—they’re hungry. Do the following: Place the starch on each dinner plate just slightly off center. Add sauce and place the protein on the sauce. Alternatively, lay the protein on the plate or tilt it on the side of the starch and spoon the sauce over the meat or seafood. Garnish with chopped herbs and serve.

Oven Braised Chicken Breasts with Lemon and Fresh Thyme

Serves 8

To quickly remove thyme leaves from the woody stems, place the thyme flat on a cutting surface and then with the top ridge of a chef’s knife, scrape the stems. The leaves will come off easily.

  • 8 organic bone-in and skin-on chicken breast halves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon skin
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper or hot sauce

Rub chicken breasts on both sides with salt, pepper, and half the thyme. Place a 2-quart sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter, garlic, and shallots. When the butter just begins to brown, add the remaining thyme, wine, cream, grated lemon, lemon juice, and salt. Bring to a low boil. Then remove from the heat. Can be done to this point up to 8 hours before cooking with all food refrigerated.

Cooking: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the chicken skin side up in a heavy shallow roasting pan. Pour in the sauce. Place in the preheated oven. Roast until the internal temperature of the chicken reads 155 degrees on a meat thermometer, about 20 minutes. Midway through cooking, baste the chicken with the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Transfer the chicken to a heated serving platter, pour the sauce over the chicken, and serve family style. Or serve the chicken on heated dinner plates.

Menu ideas: Appetizers: Three appetizers brought by dinner guests. With the entrée serve Crisp Polenta with Roasted Red Pepper and Green Beans with Walnut Oil. Dessert: Bought at the local Farmer’s Market.

Braised Chicken with Garlic and Wild Mushrooms

Serves 8

Chicken breasts simmered in a sauce taste great. But the problem is that chicken breasts quickly overcook whether they’re cooked from scratch that evening or reheated. On the other hand, chicken thigh meat is richer tasting and higher in fat. It tastes even better cooked a day in advance and gently reheated, which is great since this easy recipe takes about 1 hour to complete.

  • 1 pounds firm mushrooms (shiitake, portabello, cremini)
  • 12 organic chicken thighs, boned and skinned by the market
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Asian chili sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or thyme leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, optional
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley

If using shiitake or portabello, trim off and discard the stems. Cut the mushrooms into thin slices. Cut each chicken thigh into half. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then coat with a thin dusting of flour. Place a deep 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the olive oil. When hot, add the chicken. Cook the chicken, stirring often, until it is browned on all sides. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon. Add the mushrooms and garlic. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms wilt, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the wine, broth, oyster sauce, tomato paste, chili, sugar, and thyme. When the mushrooms wilt, return the chicken to the pan and add the wine mixture. Cover, and simmer over lowest heat until the chicken is very tender, about 20 minutes. Cool. Can be done to this point up to 24 hours before cooking, with all food refrigerated.

Cooking: Bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasonings, especially for salt. Stir in cream. Transfer to a heated platter, sprinkle with parsley, and serve family style, or serve on dinner plates.

Menu ideas: Appetizers: Spicy Marinated Mussels; Melon Slices Wrapped in Prosciutto. With the entrée serve Oven Fries. Salad course: Classic Tuscan Salad. Dessert: Dense Chocolate Brownies with vanilla ice cream.